Another leap forward
The current Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Mr Nong Rong has embarked on an ambitious plan to achieve ground-breaking success in China-Pakistan relations. He has prudently decided to achieve his plans through joint progress and leading by example. In his article published in The News, Mr. Rong has highlighted the new leap forwards for China. For 2020, the year of the pandemic and the Great Lockdown, miraculously, China has managed positive growth in GDP. China has now become the only developed country to have gained positive GDP growth during the financial year 2020. And with it, China has become the only country to have defeated Covid-19 and moving forwards with its 14th Five Year Plan. Pakistan is with China on this successful and the benefits seem to be mutual for both nations.
It is worth noting that Mr. Nong Rong is a political representative for the Central Communist Party and not a diplomat like his predecessors. This simply means that his views and agendas are more clear and vivid, and analogous to the core Chinese perception of Pakistan. Mr. Rong has pointed out in his news article that China is committed to development of its masses and that of its partner countries. China believes in development through co-operation and trade. The government of China has achieved a GDP of 100 Trillion Yuan, equivalent to 14.7 Trillion USD. It is an accomplishment like no other. With it, China is now the leading exporter of the world and attracts the highest amount of Foreign Direct Investment in the world. China has achieved what no nation before it has done for many centuries. Mr. Rong calls it “the Leap”.
China’s leap forward is directly related to Pakistan. According to BBC Survey, Pakistanis view China as one of the most favorable and friendly nations to Pakistan and on the other hand, Chinese favor their Pakistani brethren as the third most friendly nation in the World. The co-operation between China and Pakistan crosses boundaries from State to culture and progress. The height of this co-operation and brotherly relations between China and Pakistan is the fast progress in CPEC under the able chairmanship of Retd. General Asim Bajwa. He is serving as a bridge between Civil and Military leadership in the country, a dynamic mix of abilities. The 10th Joint Co-operation Committee meeting is underway and commendable progress is being observed. Pakistan has performed parallel to the expectations of the Chinese Government and all parties are on board. The Prime Minister Imran Khan is also keeping a liaison with the CPEC initiative and repeatedly points out his commitment to the Chinese vision for the region. In his words in a recent event, he said, “If we can learn from any country, it is China”. To be exact, he referred to the poverty alleviation and model for progress for Pakistan. Also, as per Government of Pakistan, the year 2021, is all about agricultural co-operation between China and Pakistan as agriculture is still the backbone of the country. Further, in another prominent development, the Chinese and Pakistan Government have decided to form parliamentary co-ordination committees which will be a first of its kind. This will directly link political leadership of Pakistan with political counterparts in China.
In normal circumstances, the above stated achievements could have been commonplace but it is a commendable triumph considering that almost all developed countries of the world are struggling with Covid-19 pandemic. Even with the availability of vaccines, the death toll continues to mount. Curfew-like lockdowns are in place in UK and Europe. Over a thousand deaths per day in the United States are a horrible reality. Despite Covid-19, China and Pakistan are progressing. Pakistan recorded lowest deaths from covid and controlled rates of infection. In the second wave, the effective policies of the Government and low mortality rates are allowing the functioning of the economy. As a result, in the same model as China, Pakistan has boosted its exports to record levels. The flow of good from Pakistan to other nations is improving the economic outlook of the country.
Pakistan and China are called “all-weather” friends. In these difficult times, China has come to the aid of Pakistan. First to recover from the pandemic, China was able to more than one vaccine for the corona virus. With collaboration of medical expert, the Chinese vaccine was administered to volunteers in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The Chinese biomedical firms thanked Pakistan for this venture. As the program went forward, the vaccine achieved over 86% efficacy. To join the list was United Arab Emirates where Chinese vaccines were allowed for public use. Now, the Chinese Government has supplied over 1 Million doses of covid-19 vaccine without payment. As of now, the vaccine is being administered to frontline health workers in major cities distributed by the federal Government. Further, as a token of brotherly relations, the Pakistan Army has been supplied with free of charge vaccine by the Chinese Army. It is a testimony to the long standing commitment between the two nations.
The year 2020 was a one of the most challenging years of human history; yet, it has been proven that with hardwork, dedication and discipline, the impossible can be achieved. CPEC is the most critical part of OBOR, the future of growth for China and Pakistan are tied together. Gwadar is fast approaching the point of International repute, serving as a business hub for the country and the region as a whole. Pakistan will link China with the Muslim world and Central Asia. This is the true potential of what was envisioned by Pakistan on the inception of China as a nation. The bi-lateral trade between Pakistan and China has crossed 20 Billion USD and the cultural exchange has now reached all provinces of Pakistan. Special projects, economic zones, railways, road links and trade routes are underway. The fruits of these projects will be born by future generations. The need of the hour is to make this progress all inclusive. The present Government is taking the precise steps to ensure steady progress.
Finally, the regional scenario is also conducive for Pakistan and China. Iran is now a part of OBOR and the port of Chabahar is being developed as a twin port. The rivalry between the two projects is no more, rather these two ports are set to complement each other. Turkey through Pakistan is joining hands into the OBOR route. European nations are taking active interest and CPEC and OBOR are becoming an attractive combination for the world. The opposing sides which termed CPEC as a debt trap for Pakistan and all institutions against debt politics are of the view that Pakistan has taken sound steps to ensure its technical, industrial and infrastructural growth. Both Pakistan and China have continued their growth despite the pandemic and the trend is set to continue. After the grim reality of covid-19 death rates, there is hope on the horizon, with the great leap of China, is the great rise of Pakistan as the new leading nation in the region. A new block of co-operation, progress and development, it is high time for Pakistan and China to go beyond, become more and reach new heights.
(The Writer is Chairman of Jinnah Rafi Foundation)